Thursday, 19 April 2012


Joel is a lovely, great bear of a man who helps us with the ministry in the Village of Kadawa, Western Kenya.   He is part of the leadership team at Restoration Community Church (RCC) where he is one of the Cell-group Coordinators.  Among other things in which he is involved, he also plays a valuable role in the Widows Farm, including regular distribution of food and water to destitute widows .  We love this man and are witnesses to his testimony.

Joel's Testimony
Joel & John
Joel Otieno was born in Kadawa. He is married to Margaret and they have 8 children. Before he became a Christian he was a drunkard and spent most of the money he earned as a matatu (14-seat public transportation) conductor on alcohol.  As a result, his family could not afford clothes and food, nor was there any money for the children to go to school.  His health suffered - including vomiting and Typhoid.

During bad times his sisters, who had become Christians and were part of RCC, would visit him and testify about their faith. His interest grew in what was happening in this new church - RCC.  One Sunday he decided to visit the church and heard the pastor, Hesbone, say that whoever wants to can come into a personal relationship with Jesus and be saved; he found himself going forward to the altar.  He gave his life to Jesus.

Two days later he had a vision while sleeping. He saw angels dressed in white who told him to "Kneel down and cry for Jesus". He started crying , and then he realized the angels were giving him a bible and they said to him “Go out and preach the gospel”.

Shortly afterwards he began preaching to the unsaved and visiting people in their homes.

Joel & John at a food distribution!
Since becoming a Christian he does not now waste money.  His wife has peace and now has money to buy clothes and food, and to send the children to school. The whole family go to RCC.  Also he is now fit and healthy.

Joel's Leso
In 2010 a group of ladies, mostly widows, was working on the farm for several days - harrowing, fertilizing and planting maize on the Widows Farm.  They were being supervised by Joel.  It was a new experience for many in that the women were doing this for destitute widows in the church and community as volunteers. No pay! John was so proud of these ladies and at the end of one day he was praising them and Joel for their selfless service to the destitute widows.  A bit of cultural information:  women in Kenya wear a piece of fabric wrapped around themselves while they work.  It acts something like an apron or a house dress.  It is also used to carry ones baby on their back, it is used to wrap parcels to carry on ones head, it is used to sit on, it can be a handkerchief - it has many, many uses.  They are very colorful, with various patterns, and always have a Swahili proverb printed on the bottom.  They are about 3 feet (1 meter) by 6 feet (2 meters).  You will see why this bit of information is being added at this point.  OUR TRANSLATOR HAD NEVER DONE SO FOR US BEFORE and, unknown to us, was having trouble with John's British accent.  One thing that we have clearly learned over the years is that one cannot make jokes in a foreign culture.  It just doesn't work and we know it.  However, John couldn't help himself.  He told the ladies that he was also so proud of Joel that he was going to get him a leso.  The translator passed that info on to the ladies upon which they began to laugh and give off their typical victory cry.  Marty mentioned to John that his joke went over really well.  He was very pleased.

After some more conversation the translator told us that the women wanted to know when they were getting their lesos.  Marty asked her to repeat what she said.  She then said that since John had said he was going to get them all a leso, they wanted to know when they would receive them.  After some discreet, delicate inquiry we found that when John said "I am going to get Joel a leso", the translator thought he said " I am going to get you all a leso". TA leso is strictly a feminine item and a man just wouldn't wear one, so there was no way she could have thought he said Joel.  Marty quickly explained the dilemma to John and we just as quickly decided to buy lesos for every one of them, including Joel's wife (she wasn't there).  So, no one except Sara - a wonderful helper and our usual translator - ever knew about the issue.  Sara had to know because she had to take Marty to market to try to find 50 YES 50 - lesos so that she could cut and hem them (she is a seamstress) for distribution by Sunday (4 days later).  Fortunately, because of buying so many we were able to get a discount; however, it still cost us $100 for that little joke!
Katherine in a leso
We trust you have enjoyed learning about our friend Joel.  God's Love and Grace are so very amazing.  

We will be returning to Kenya in late May and will continue to keep you informed of our ongoing saga with these wonderful people that we have learned to love so much.  It is easy to love them - because they love us.

Please receive our blessings and love to you all!

John & Marty